Perth musician undertaking project to rewrite 892 Robert Burns songs nears halfway point
A Perth-born songwriter who learns, records and rewrites 892 Robert Burns songs is nearing halfway through his huge musical rejuvenation project.
On May 25, Eddie Cairney (70) will have completed song number 446 in his revamp of the National Bard’s long music discography.
The project was launched on July 21 last year to mark the 225th anniversary of Burns’ death and will take until March 2023 to complete.
Eddie said that Burns had a very short writing career, no more than 10 years, but in that time he managed to create some of the greatest song lyrics ever written.
He was a musician, could play the violin and notate music, but his attempts at composition were not successful, so he gave up and instead relied on collecting traditional tunes on which he built his words.
Eddie said that due to Burns’ untimely death at just 37, he had no time to form collaborations with composers of the day.
The local musician also felt for years that Burns’ handful of known songs had yet to fully reveal his true greatness as a songwriter, prompting him to jump in and fix that.
“I’m not sure, but this might be the biggest rewrite project ever undertaken,” Eddie said.
“Every Wednesday I finish a new album and post the songs on Facebook almost every day.
“I had a lot of flattering comments on the project, mainly via Facebook.
He added: “I learned a lot about him during that time. A lot has been said about him over the years I think.
“Robert Burns was a great poet, but really he was mostly a songwriter. Through the poems and the songs, you can see what the guy was really like. He was decidedly eccentric.
“He was going to be a slave trader in Jamaica, but he couldn’t have done that job, I think.
“He had more practical ideas and he lived in his head.
“His wife gave him a lot of leeway and he even wrote a touching song about his illegitimate daughter after his wife took her into their home. She was a nice person but a bit neurotic.
Eddie hopes his new collection of songs will rekindle people’s interest in Burns.
The songs were written in several different styles so “there’s a song for everyone”.
He wants these new Robert Burns songs to be there as a resource for schools, groups and individuals.
A new album is released every Wednesday and can be accessed via https://rbtns.scot